New Yorkers attracted to new, sophisticated Miami: TRD panel

Moderator Hiten Samtani, Bess Freedman, Peter Fine, Leonard Steinberg, Andrew Heiberger and Ryan Serhant
Moderator Hiten Samtani, Bess Freedman, Peter Fine, Leonard Steinberg, Andrew Heiberger and Ryan Serhant

It’s no secret that New York and Miami are in an open relationship, but according to a panel of New York power players, the two cities are closer to tying the knot than some might think.

The panel took place at The Real Deal South Florida’s Forum & Showcase on Thursday, and included Ryan Serhant of “Million Dollar Listing: New York” fame; Leonard Steinberg, president of the quickly growing Compass brokerage firm in New York; Bess Freedman, executive vice president of Brown Harris Stevens; Andrew Heiberger, co-founder of Town Residential; and Peter Fine, president of To Better Days Development, which builds spec homes in Miami Beach.

“Miami is the unofficial sixth borough of New York City,” said Heiberger, whose firm has partnered up with Miami’s Fortune International Group. “A lot of our brokers were interested in the Miami marketplace.”

Heiberger said Town and Fortune courted each other for 10 months before formalizing a relationship, and now the two have roughly 30 transactions in the pipeline.

The two aren’t alone: In June, Brown Harris Stevens acquired Miami Beach’s Zilbert International Realty, absorbing roughly 30 agents in hopes of strengthening the connection between its New York clientele and Miami’s real estate market.

“A lot of the agents from Zilbert came to New York City,” said Freedman, the Brown Harris Stevens executive. “They saw some projects; we showed them around New York. The same thing will happen with our agents from New York.”

She also noted that with all the new luxury development coming online in Miami, it’s an opportune time to get involved.

“Five years ago there wasn’t that uber luxury here in Miami, and now that we have all this stuff coming: Faena House, the Continuum… all these incredible projects,” said Freedman. “There’s a thirst for it here.”

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Ryan Serhant, whose team at Nest Seekers has planted its feet in Miami, also touched on his clientele’s growing interested in local properties.

“The reason we started doing more and more business here is because the client base is the same,” Serhant said. “We have a lot of clients saying ‘We’re buying new construction in New York City, we have a place in L.A., now we want to go to Miami.’”

Also, “the sales offices are so cool,” he added. He said he gets a warm welcome at the sales centers in Miami — and the opposite reaction in New York.

Heiberger talked about how his old stomping grounds in Brickell, where he used to live in a luxury high-rise, have transformed into an urban oasis. Now, he said when he drives by he feels likes the mouse Stuart Little.

“[Brickell] really offers an urban lifestyle,” he said. “It really is a true live/work environment.”

Fine, the spec home developer, said he has owned a home here for 10 years, mentioned how casual the culture is in Miami compared to the fast pace of New York.

Even Steinberg’s firm Compass, which launched in New York only two years ago, has set its sights on Miami’s sandy shores, opening an office in Miami Beach in August.

“We are all interested in Miami mostly because the clientele in New York is so fascinated with what’s going on here,” said Steinberg, president of Compass. “There is a tremendous synergy that exists between Miami and New York…. and because of that, we’re here.”